Air Zimbabwe has no plans to retrench soon

RESURGENT national airline Air Zimbabwe has announced that it has no capacity to immediately embark on a retrenchment exercise to improve the company’s efficiency.
Addressing a Press briefing last Friday, Air Zimbabwe chairman Ozias Bvute said the airline, which recently resumed its traditionally viable Harare-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls and Harare-Johannesburg routes, had taken a position to send its workers on forced leave until the company’s performance improved.

Report by Victoria Mtomba

“We are not in a position to conduct retrenchment. We have put people on temporary leave. We are currently travelling to South Africa and the domestic routes, so it would not make business sense to have a full staff complement to service these few routes. We have asked our staff to go on leave,” he said. Bvute said the recent introduction of the two Airbuses currently being leased by the airline had reduced operational costs by 45% for the company.

At peak Air Zimbabwe used to have 1 025 employees manning a route network servicing Harare-Johannesburg, Harare-Bulawayo, Harare-Victoria Falls, Harare-Nairobi, Harare-Dar es Salaam, Harare-Lubumbashi, Harare-London and Harare- Kuala Lumpur-Beijing.

Last month, the company which has begun a restructuring, announced that it had sent over 600 workers on forced leave in order to rebuild the route network, offer professional competitive services on flights, increase financial return and build a strong passenger base for the benefit of all stakeholders.

“A skeletal staff complement of 307 shall be retained for operations while the rest of the staff shall be sent on vacation leave to facilitate streamlined operations and optimum use of personnel for the next six months, at which point the airline will review progress made,” said company spokesperson said month.

Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reregistered Air Zimbabwe following its suspension last year. Air Zimbabwe was deregistered from the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) registry after the airline had temporarily discontinued operations and failed to conduct audits which must be carried out every two years.

Speaking at the same Press conference, Transport and Communications secretary Munesu Munodawafa said the airline underwent an IOSA audit programme from December 17-21 last year, after which it had 12 months to close any gaps that had been identified.

“The audits are carried out every two years and your national airline is next for the audit, meets part of the requirements to attract strategic partnership with world-class airlines, meets high safety standards, while realising notable cost savings and operational efficiency,” Munodawafa said.

The developments also come at a time when the Air France KLM group announced that it had agreed a deal to service and maintain Air Zimbabwe’s new Airbus aircraft.

“After the resumption of its operations and the acquisition of two Airbus A320, Air Zimbabwe has signed a contract with Air France KLM Group to ensure the aircraft have the necessary support,” the Air France group said in a statement. “The contract includes access to the Air France KLM pool, with repairs at the time of flight and the provision of a main base kit, located initially in Johannesburg, then in Harare.”

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